Title: The Year I Tried To Kill My Love
Artist: Wings of an Angel
Release Date: 2014 Aug 01
Genre: Ambient Drone
License: CC BY-NC-ND
Every now and then I find an artist that shatters my preconceptions, and makes me want to break as many rules as I can find to break. Wings of An Angel is one of those artists, and The Year I Tried To Kill My Love is the cause of such passion.
The Angel Tried To Kill My Love
So, what kind of preconceptions does this release break? The single biggest one is that a drone artist has a detachment, or a very different perception of music from other artists. This is a release that proves exactly the opposite. Instead of a cold, atonal series of tones arranged into some form of pattern this recording starts with a lush and rich tonal cluster reminiscent of Debussy style chromaticism with abstracted impressionist elements.
This is a recording that is rife with the concepts of isolation, loneliness, and introspection. It is born of the kind of situation in which one finds his or herself completely isolated to the point where they are cut-off from their own emotions. Wings of An Angel (aka Felix Kaplan) explains it this way:
…it’s a love-tale of a person to himself, the unsung hymn of the solitary extreme individualist / nonconformist, who goes his own way, often giving up on socially accepted practices such as relationships.
This work starts off with ‘Tin Men Cry Out Of Spite’, a title which evokes the image of the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz, whose main desire is to have a heart, to be able to feel emotions that he’s never been able to feel. By crying in spite, it’s the image of a person who is trying to defy the lack of emotions he or she has.
In ‘Solitude Spreads Within The Heart’s Corridors Like Cancerous Cells’ we are taken to the place where the isolation starts. Despite being in a crowded city, surround by thousands of other people, the inability to form a relationship turns these people into an infection, and eventually into a malignancy.
‘Detachment From Your Soft Skin Would Be The Source Of My Ills’ is possibly the most direct title on this release. It’s about the lack of contact, physical contact between people. Neither the kind of contact of two people brushing up against each other in a crowded subway car, nor the deep passionate connection of lovers is implied here. It could be any level of physical contact: the handshakes, hugs, hand-holding. With all these types of contact lost it can make a person start to feel sick on a level.
There is, however, a moment of clarity. A point at which the struggle against the loneliness and isolation comes to a head. And that is clearly in the composition ‘I Know That I’ve Promised You To Never Allow Myself To Love, But I Must Fail’. But this isn’t just the external love of or for someone else, it is the internal love. It is the mounting of the effects of isolation on within, as much as the external isolation.
And the glimmer of hope comes at the end. Not in the form of a connection with someone else, or the connection within, but in the mystery recesses of one own mind, in the form of a memory: ‘The Same Year I Tried To Kill My Love, You Were Ever Present Within My Dreams’. It’s another level of the mystery of our inner-selves. How does the mind work? How do dreams occur? How do we know and understand the things that are in our dreams? For Wings Of An Angel that was something he could grasp, even if only metaphorically.
This may be one of the deepest, and most affecting releases I’ve encountered all year. It is not a surprise to me that it took four years for Felix to release it. There is a deep, close and personal connection to these pieces that is breathtaking and all-encompassing. The mastery of tonal control is astounding, seriously worthy of comparison to other impressionist composers. But, those are just the tools that are used, the paintbrush used to stroke the paint onto the canvas. The resulting images are astounding, they engulf the body mind and soul of the listener. They are affecting and transformational, and that is the measure of any artist: are they leaving something behind that will affect you, the listener. In this case, listening to The Year I Tried To Kill My Love is to face our own inner isolation, to understand how our emotions are expressed, to understand who we are.